Look for a typically wacky game this week between these old NFC East Rivals.
The last game played by the Giants (vs. Dallas) and the last played by the Eagles (vs. Washington) couldn't be two worse games to gauge the upcoming Giants/Eagles game by. We saw the Giants at their season's worst and the Eagles played arguably at their best. Will the Giants look as bad this week as they did against the Cowboys? Will the Eagles look as good as they did against the Redskins? The answer to both questions is ~ I doubt it. These teams will probably meet somewhere in the middle and turn this into an old fashioned school yard fight.
Before I continue though, there's a little matter I'd like to get off my chest.
If you've been reading this blog as I follow the Giants this season, you know all year long I've been howling about the running game and Brandon Jacobs in particular. I've been getting "Blue" in the face talking about Coach Gilbride's unnecessary and rambunctious pass calling at times. I've been going on ad-nausea about how Coach Gilbride needs to take steps towards playing Football in December by making a change in his philosophy and featuring the running game more. I voiced all those complaints while we were winning. We are now at the point of the season when a team must dominate 3rd and short and 4th and short situations. You only dominate those situations with a power running game.
Today we are ill prepared for that situation because Coach Gilbride didn't make his in-season adjustment to the cold weather game yet; if he does at all. On this Giants team with this offensive line and this compliment of running backs the running game needed to be instituted as it's bread and butter weeks ago. Our failure to control short yardage was glaringly evident versus Dallas as we could not execute on 4th and 1 late in the game.
From the the desks of Obvious; Really? Welcome to last month! Why don't we just game-plan every game like a Super Bowl? It's ponderous how we don't win every game if all you have to do is write it into the script. It's not my want to take jabs at the media and I rarely, if ever do. I just call them up directly to air my grievances. But this struck me as a lay-up because I've been calling for a change in the Giants' attack since.....You've been reading; you tell me. I'm done. .....the game....
The Captains of Obvious are right. We need to pound this football on the ground all day long. Pound out yardage on the ground, get first downs, keep the clock running and Michael Vick off the field. Take your shots down field when the situations arise instead of forcing the passing game. And most importantly, no turn-overs. In this game, who ever turns over the ball least, wins.
We all know the left side of the Offensive Line has been decimated by injuries and that fact may add wrinkles to the best laid plans to run the ball. I totally get that.
But this is a Giants-Eagles game. Usually the best prognostications are rendered stupid in this match-up. One freaky game is usually what ensues when these teams meet. These games are never pretty and to call them ugly is calling Phyllis Diller, Aphrodite. Fumbles, interceptions, safeties, penalties, hostilities, and the darnedest things you ever saw are all part of Giants/Eagles games. It's always been that way with these NFC East rivals.
If we can't keep Vick off the field with the running game or we keep turning over the ball, Michael Vick poses a very real problem for the Giants this week. That big problem is Vick's confidence level; not his skill level. He can do what he can do and we're all a testament to that. But riding a confidence level that is sky high right now, Vick's 'id' might be looking to do things he never thought he could before; - That's the scary aspect of "him". Skill begs for great moments and his brain just might listen.
OK...relax. Here's the other side. We always managed to contain Vick before when he was with the Falcons. That was a different day. I'll give you that. But somehow we've always managed him. He didn't have a great camp or early start to the season. Last week was a break-through game in an improving season for him but a bad day at the office just might be right around the corner too.
This is the week for the linebackers to make a name for themselves. This quiet and surprisingly effective group must now be a unit the entire team can lean on for a week. The Giants need to play Vick as straight-up traditional as can be, - as if you were teaching Defense 101 to horticulturalists and drawing it up on a chalk board.. I'm talking no gimmicks, minimal blitzing and 1950s era positioning.
The front four need to keep Vick in front of them and in the middle of the field. The secondary needs to keep their eyes glued to the whites of the receiver's eyes without a blink and blanket them as long as they can. The Linebackers need to keep Vick from running outside, escaping inside when the pocket slides past him, and prevent him from just running wild in general and improvising plays. The key to beating Vick this week from a defensive point of view will be how our linebackers read and react to Vick. In short form, that's what I think. For this type of quarterback I myself would use a 3-4 defense. But we know that's not what the Giants do, so their hands will be full.
Why play him straight up and show him old school schemes? He'll pick apart our aggression at the line of scrimmage. We'll get 'pass to the backs' and 'screen-passed' to death. QB's like to identify and single out safeties. This week I say it will be one our linebackers who will wind up getting singled out and attempts to exploit him will be made all game long; not the secondary like most fear. Michael Boley, Jon Goff, Keith Bullock, Clint Sintim....? This is the week "the game" finds them. I hope what ever Perry Fewell and Coach Coughlin bickered about last week is resolved. Perry Fewell will be facing his biggest test as Giants' Defensive Coordinator this week against a soaring Eagles team. His schemes as much as his defensive players' efforts will play a large role in this game. I would just caution against over aggression this game versus Michael Vick.
Injuries; We got em. We have a bunch of em; just like everybody else. So..., the last comment of the day goes to the Special Teams. They've been flat out rotten but we've gotten around it. This may be a game when their sub-par play comes back to haunt the Giants.